Kira Mac have, notes their imposing singer of the same name, gone from nine monthly Spotify plays in a month 18 months ago to 39k today. Now, granted, given the royalties that Daniel Ek pays that’s probably enough to buy a packet of sweets, but notwithstanding that, it speaks to their growing popularity.
Introduced here by Planet Rock’s Paul Anthony, their set nods to the past and their fine “Chaos Is Calling” debut (released a year ago almost exactly) but also looks forward.
“Dead Man Walking” is one of the former, as is “Mississippi Swinging” (“We’ve got two sorts of songs, heavy and yee-haw” offers Kira herself, “This is one of the yee-haw ones”) but its the others that convince they’re in it for the long-haul.
“Scorned” was something of a breakthrough moment for them when it was released earlier this year, and you can see why, “Farewell” and “Climbing” rather suggest that they have found their sweet spot, though and by the time they’ve orchestrated a singalong “One Way Ticket” there’s every reason to believe they’re only just getting started. Back here to headline this room next spring, Kira Mac are ready for whatever comes their way.
The guitar breaking in “Blood Brothers”, the first song, probably wasn’t what The Answer’s Cormac Neeson dreamed of when he set out on stage tonight, but we are where we are. You don’t get to play arenas and do this for almost 20 years without dealing with a setback or six, though so he leads the crowd in the Irish drinking song they usually do in the encore and Paul Mahon is up to full speed for “Nowhere Freeway”.
“….Brothers”, is one of the choice songs from their superb “comeback” record “Sundowners” -their first in seven years – but for 90 minutes here they celebrate a career.
So old favourites “New Horizon” and “Under The Sky” mix with the title track of the new album and don’t sound out of place in any way.
It’s “Sundowners” that most sums up the vibe too. Neeson “shakes out the negativity” and there’s a positive feel about the whole show.
It’s an interesting one too. The band have added a keyboard player, Cara Bruns and she’s added a new dynamic, a more expansive sound, even a touch of funkiness, if you will, both to old stuff like “Keep Believin'” and new songs such as “Want You To Love Me”.
As a fan of the much overlooked and underrated “Solas” album, it’s pleasing to see the title track make a return to the set, and there’s something euphoric about “Spectacular” just as there ever was.
Despite their hiatus, the band never split up, now regrouped and re-energised, they’ve already put out a new single to follow the album and “Wild Heart” fits right in too.
“Come Follow Me” and “Preachin'” underline the quality of that wonderful debut album from 17 years ago, as well as giving Neeson the chance to give it the full-on fire and brimstone Preacher in the last one with the floor of the venue his pulpit.
Drinking song already used, there are only two in the encore, “Always Alright” and “Demon Eyes” and both are in their own way, proof of the quality of this band, but also the warmth they have for each other and their crowd.
The Answer, Paul Anthony had said when he introduced them, have “been there, done it and got several million t-shirts along the way”. A couple of times here Neeson has referenced a show at the long-gone Little Civic up the road on their first tour. I was there, it was magnificent. So was this. It might be a mighty long way down rock ‘n roll and all that, but the band seem more content than ever.